Sussex Police are warning motorists to be vigilant following five catalytic converter thefts overnight.
Two of the thefts were in Crowborough with the others in Lewes and Eastbourne. The first in Millbrook Road and the second off Green Lane.
In the last few years there has been a sharp rise in the number of thefts taking place across the whole of the South East, with forces in the South East and forces are working together to combat this type of crime.
Criminals appear to be targeting specific vehicles, including Toyotas and Hondas and especially Hybrid vehicles. Sussex Police believe thieves are selling the catalytic converters on for spares for anything between £150-£450.
In a bid to combat criminality, the force want residents to report any suspicious activities around parked vehicles to them.
One of the victims Hazel Rush said:
We live just off of Green Lane. We know it was 1.30am as some of the neighbours saw them and it is thought they were driving a silver estate car. The thieves used a wheelie bin and plant pot to try and block our front door to stop us catching them.Hazel Rush
Report to the Police
Residents who saw anything suspicious which might help the investigation, including relevant CCTV, doorbell or dash cam footage, are asked to contact Sussex Police.
If you see anyone acting suspiciously around parked vehicles, report it to the Police immediately – if you think it is a crime in action and a theft is occurring call 999, remember to obtain any details of a get-away vehicle, and a description of the suspects.
Anyone else who has been a victim of a catalytic converter theft is also asked to report the crime.
Catalytic converters are devices fitted to vehicle exhausts to reduce the amount of dangerous gases emitted. Most catalytic converters are only held on with a few bolts that can be undone and removed in a minutes. In some instances, thieves will opt to cut them off, but the regularity of this method is far lower than most people are led to believe.
It is commonly reported that theft is due to the trace element of expensive and rare metals that catalytic converters contain. This may be true in some instances but most thefts are thought to supply the spare parts black market
Car owners can ask their dealer for any advice on locks or guards that are approved by the vehicle manufacturer to keep catalytic converters safe. People are also urged to register their converter and mark it with a forensic marker, which will make it harder for thieves to dispose of.
Signs a catalytic converter theft is being committed
- a vehicle being raised using a car jack in a car park or residential area
- a loud drilling or cutting sound coming from underneath the vehicle
Video from Nottinghamshire police showing a catalytic converter theft:
PROTECT, MARK, PARK.
- Protect your car by asking your dealer if they can give you any advice on locks or guards that are approved by the vehicle manufacturer and tested to Sold Secure Gold. Visit Secured by Design or Sold Secure Gold for more details.
- Mark your catalytic converter with a forensic marker and register your converter.
Catalytic converters can be forensically marked using special liquids (SmartWater) with a unique code detectable under a UV light. This can make it harder for thieves to dispose of stolen catalytic converters, and can lead to the detection of crime and reunite people with their property.
- Park your car somewhere well-lit and overlooked, among as many cars as possible, alternatively in a garage overnight or in a secure compound.
- Try to park so the converter can’t be easily reached – close to a wall or fence.
- Try not to park at the end of the row if there are free spaces, and be aware that vehicles that sit high above the road are particularly vulnerable.
- If you car doesn’t have a factory-fitted alarm – consider having one fitted, which can detect and activate if a vehicle is lifted or tilted with a trolley jack.
Further general advice from British Transport Police about keeping your vehicle safe.
Free Catalytic Converter Marking Kits
Following the thefts in Crowborough, Sussex Police have secured a number of catalytic converter marking kits.
Car owners are able to visit Crowborough Police Station over the next few weeks to can obtain a FREE kit and get free installation. Take along ID and your vehicle’s log book with you. Crowborough Police Station is on Crowborough Hill (at the junction with North Beeches Road) and is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 2pm. (There are a limited number of kits and are issued on a first come first served basis.)